On Wednesday, March 10, the MSPCA participated in a press conference about an important bill that has been introduced this legislative session, House Docket 3356, otherwise known as ‘Ollie’s Law.’ The bill is named after Ollie, a 7-month-old Labradoodle who was mauled and later died after having been attacked at a doggie daycare he was attending. When Ollie’s mom, Amy Baxter, tried to find out what had happened she found answers hard to come by, and was stunned to learn that there are no state regulations of doggie daycares or boarding kennels. On March 10, Ollie would have turned 1 year old.
The event, held at the Dakin Humane Society, was attended by the MSPCA, the Animal Rescue League of Boston, bill sponsor State Representative Brian Ashe, State Representative Carlos Gonzales, supportive doggie daycare industry members, Amy Baxter, and others. Speakers noted that this legislation would require reasonable rules and regulations for doggie daycare and boarding kennel facilities, such as specifications on staff to dog ratios, group sizes and supervision, minimum housing and care requirements, indoor and outdoor physical facility requirements, dog handling, injury reporting, and insurance.
While there are many excellent businesses in the industry, regulations are needed. Many families in Massachusetts have suffered the loss or injury of a companion animal at a doggie daycare or kennel—tragedies that could have been prevented by commonsense oversight of these facilities.
In addition to the tragic case of Ollie, for example, in 2015, Cassie Olson left her 7-year-old rescue mix at a doggie daycare for one night. She was called the next day and told that there had been a fire and that her beloved dog and five other pets had died. When Cassie looked into the details of the fire, she found that the owner of the kennel had left the animals unattended in the house, leaving them with no chance of escaping the fire.
In 2016, Rob Foley went to pick up his 9-year-old German Shepherd, Maximus, three days after he left him at a boarding kennel, which is now closed. Mr. Foley was told Maximus had died from stomach bloat just hours earlier. When authorities asked the kennel owners to release their surveillance tapes, Maximus was seen being kept in a cage no bigger than a cat’s for over 30 hours, unattended. The rest of the time, he was kept outside without water or shelter from the sun.
Rules and regulations would help to prevent such tragedies from happening. Consumers deserve boarding kennels and daycare facilities for dogs that provide quality care, and give dog owners and guardians peace of mind. The public should be able to trust their companion animal’s care to professionals while they’re at work, out of town, or otherwise unavailable. These facilities allow a pet to avoid the stress of long car or plane rides, stay where they’re welcome and safe, receive more attention and supervision than if left home alone, and be monitored by staff for health concerns.
The MSPCA urges the public to contact their state representative and state senator in support of HD 3356, Ollie’s Law. (Find out who represents you at wheredoivotema.com). For more information, visit www.mspca.org/currentlegislation. To keep apprised of this and other important legislation, join the Animal Action Team at www.mspca.org/jointheteam.